Black Supporters Rally Behind Lieberman

By Cheryl K. Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:26pm EDT

Los Angeles ( - Despite critics of the Democratic Party who claim vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman has softened his reform stance on affirmative action these past couple weeks, the black caucus of the Democratic National Convention is supporting his candidacy and denying his views ever underwent any drastic change.

"We support him and this ticket 1,000 percent," said New York Rep. and black caucus member Gregory Meeks. "I'm going out as soon as this convention is over and I'm going across the county, to every African American neighborhood I can, to support this ticket

Meeks called it a "vicious rumor" -- probably started by "one or two people out of the blue" -- that any members of the caucus planned to sit on their hands during Lieberman's Wednesday evening convention address, in silent protest of a man perceived by some as flip-flopping on the civil rights issue since his vice presidential candidacy was made public.

Lieberman recently discussed his stand on civil rights, both at caucus meetings and in private, Meeks said, and "everyone in the [group] was satisfied" with his views.

"We believe Lieberman is part of the 'mend it' administration," Meeks said." Lieberman voted to fix [affirmative action], not end it. He wants to mend it, not end it."

Lieberman echoed that sentiment during his convention speech almost verbatim, calling for the American public to "mend it, but please don't end it."

Affirmative action is still a necessary reform, Meeks said, who disagreed with those who might label it a special right rather than an equal right.

"Giving access to people who have been historically denied access, that's what [affirmative action] is about," he said. "People forget, it was just 40 years ago that African Americans were denied the right to vote. We need to mend it, not end it, so everyone is given the access."

The caucus' support of Lieberman may not be solely due to his perceived "mend it not end it" philosophy; Meeks said blacks and Jews have historically held an alliance because they both suffered at the hands of discrimination.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis cast his public vote for the Gore-Lieberman ticket Wednesday evening, amplifying the chorus of black support offered to the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

"From our lips to God's ears," Lewis said, addressing the convention crowd, "I believe and I know that America is ready for Joe Lieberman and Joe Lieberman is ready for America. This man, our next vice president, has demonstrated [he is committed] toward the building of a truly interracial community. Now is the time to walk with Joe Lieberman and make him the next vice president."

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